DeKALB, Ill. - With the game tied at 47, Illinois Chicago's Jasmine Bailey drove the left baseline for a game-winning layup with one second left to hand Northern Illinois a tough 49-47 loss at the NIU Convocation Center on Wednesday night.
With no timeouts left, NIU quickly inbounded the ball to Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah), who hit a half-courter last year at the buzzer to beat Southern Illinois, but the senior's three-quarter court heave come up short as time expired.
"I thought we did a good job of coming back; we struggled with [Jasmine Bailey] the whole game," said NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett. "I thought we contested [the final shot] but she seeks the basket. She seeks to get to the foul line. She's a very, very good player."
The loss for NIU (4-4) snapped a four-game winning streak against the Flames (5-4) in DeKalb and denied the Huskies of their first three-game winning streak of the season. The loss also marked the first time NIU had lost a game after leading at halftime.
The tale of the game was NIU's ability to score in the paint and UIC's three-point shooting performance. The Huskies held a 28-12 edge in the paint, but it was UIC's 8-3 advantage in made threes that proved to be the difference and started the Flames' final push.
With NIU ahead 36-29 and 12:06 left in the game, back-to-back treys by UIC's Emily Kobel ignited an 11-0 run for the Flames. A few minutes later, NIU would overcome a five-point deficit with a layup by Claire Jakubicek (Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove) and a clutch three from Satavia Taylor (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook/Loyola) from the right wing with 16 seconds left, setting up the game's final play.
Prior to the 11-0 run by UIC, NIU seemed to be in control and heading for its third consecutive win. The Huskies led from the 7:48 mark of the first half all the way up until UIC's layup from Kiara Strickland with 10:32 remaining in the game.
"I think it came down to us missing some opportunities on the offensive end," Bennett said. "But our effort was great. We played our tails off. We played really hard and we'll learn from it.
"They're a good team but I thought we hurt ourselves a few times early in the game with turnovers and bad shot selection. We stopped ourselves in the first 10 minutes of the game, but from there on it was a very competitive game and both teams executed well."
Leading the way for NIU was Jakubicek's game-high 19 points as the freshman has led NIU in scoring in each of the last two games. Combine her 9-for-12 performance against the Flames with her outstanding game last Sunday at Chicago State, and she has scored 40 points on 19-for-24 shooting in the last two contests, grabbing eight rebounds in each game to boot.
"Claire had a wonderful game, but we just have to bounce back," said Bennett. "We made some adjustments and got good looks; that's a good sign."
The Huskies return to action Saturday, Dec. 17, with a 6 PM CT contest against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.